Mike Aquilina

Update: Howell, with Joy

Sunday August 08th 2010, 7:07 pm

Thanks to those of you who wrote on behalf of a patrologist in need. Here’s a good-news update:

Catholic professor reinstated by University of Illinois for fall term

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A Catholic professor barred from teaching courses on Catholicism after he defended in class the church’s teaching on homosexual behavior has been reinstated by the University of Illinois. Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor in the university’s religious studies department, learned of the decision July 29. He did not return phone calls from Catholic News Service seeking comment. The reinstatement came days after a deadline for suing the university set by the Alliance Defense Fund, which had taken on Howell’s case. Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., the alliance is a nonprofit Christian legal defense organization specializing in religious liberty, sanctity of life and protection of family issues. Attorney Jordan Lorance, part of the alliance’s legal team working on Howell’s case, told CNS the university’s decision came as a surprise. He charged that the university had violated Howell’s First Amendment right of free speech by firing him. “The matter is resolved for the moment and we’ll be watching to make sure this is a long-term resolution to the matter,” Lorance said, noting that Howell’s teaching status for the spring semester is unknown. Howell was dismissed in May following the spring term after a student described as “hate speech” his explanation of the church’s teaching that homosexual acts are morally wrong. The reinstatement was announced in a press release from Robin Neal Kaler, the university’s associate chancellor for public affairs. The release said Howell will be on the university’s payroll when he teaches “Introduction to Catholicism” this fall.